Review: In A World…
The 30-year-old daughter of a famous voice actor is kicked out of her father’s home and forced to forge her way in the male-dominated voiceover industry. Supported by her sister and an endearing coworker, Carol finds herself with an opportunity to pave a way in the business for women, but has to first face off against her prestigious papa and his arrogant protégé.
Lake Bell is Carol, and wonderful, while a very funny ensemble cast includes Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, Demetri Martin, and Nick Offerman, among others. Eva Longoria even shows up and is pretty humourous, too.
Those iconic words, ‘In A World…,’ beloved by cinephiles and ingrained into pop culture lore by the late Don LaFontaine, are handled with reverence and giddiness by first time writer and director Lake Bell. She dazzles with a charming, hysterical script, and a story that is refreshing if not most accessible by films enthusiasts.
For the uninitiated, the film opens with a montage that blends both actual footage of real life voice-over actors with that of a pair of fictitious vocal celebs, the pompous though esteemed Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed) and the rising star he mentors, Gustav (Marino). Bell mocks and regards them instantly, something she tends to do throughout the movie with every character and situation. For each ridiculous comment or act (and they are many), Bell allows her characters either a moment of redemption, or a gesture of accessibility.
So with these two confident men, Bell puts them in a steam room – a place where males meet and plot – complementing Sotto’s hefty, hairy body with Marino’s taut and shaved physique. Sotto is nearing the end of his career, awaiting a lifetime achievement award and ready to endorse the aspiring Gustav to voice a forthcoming epic, a quadrilogy that riffs on The Hunger Games, that a less comfortable Sotto would have done himself.
His self-assurance is threatened though, when rumours swirl about a young woman (a female?!) who is slowly getting work and may take over this grandiose opportunity. He is spurred back into the competition, lest a woman do a man’s job. Unbeknownst to Sotto, it’s his daughter who is finally making her way, having been recently kicked out of her dad’s house to allow for his very young Midwestern girlfriend.
Voices to be sure can be memorable and affecting, but Bell enjoys taking things to the absurd, as in one case, she has a ditzy secretary profess her love for Carol’s dad. ‘He is so sexy,’ she remarks.
While the film moves towards this showdown between these two men and the rising starlet, jokes fly by at an astounding rate, as sexist old men, dopey women, awkward beaus, profane professionals, and tight-knit Russians make up a random cast of very funny characters. It’s Bell’s ability to both honour and subvert an industry that makes the film so different and so successful. Along the way, a pair of romantic storylines emerges for Carol and her sister, the latter of whom is married to an editor played by Rob Corddry, and both are endearing without falling into clichéd trappings.
It is not simply men versus women in this film, as the ladies aren’t made to be paragons of femininity necessarily. Carol has been rather unsuccessful, and even as she attains more gigs, she still snacks on string cheese and PB & Js while sleeping in, slinking off, and almost daily donning overalls. Bell does nicely dip her toes into the dramatic, but for the most part keeps things light in one of the biggest surprises and best debut of 2013.
Should You See It?
It is the funniest film of the year – absolutely.